Whatever your workout goals are, in order to achieve our best workout results we need to make sure we are fueling our bodies correctly, to not only provide enough energy to perform to our best level during the workout, but also to recover and refuel our bodies after strenuous exercise. By failing to eat correctly before exercise, you risk feeling tired or lethargic quicker during your workout and not being able to work to your best level or with accuracy and therefore unable to achieve your maximum results and risking injury. Equally if we fail to feed and refuel our bodies correctly after a workout, our can muscles we take longer to rebuild and repair, leaving us feeling achy and sore, and potentially losing the strength gains we have been working to achieve and risk injury in the long run.
In order to optimise our eating to its best potential our main priority is to ensure we have enough energy to perform the workout we are going to perform. Our bodies first and foremost use carbohydrates and glycogen as its first source of energy, therefore stocking up with a some carbohydrates before a workout will stand you in good stead.
I would suggest approximately 60-90 minutes prior to a workout, choosing to eat some low glycemic index carbohydrates. Essentially all that means is that the carbs will digest more slowly, causing a lower rise in blood glucose and therefore requires less insulin. This benefits us while exercising as it helps to provide us with a steady supply of energy to maintain good focus and to fuel the muscles we are working throughout our workout. A good example of a meal like that would be something pasta or brown rice based, or if it is prior to a morning workout reach for a classic bowl of porridge.
Failing that, and if you are looking for a quick fix of energy prior to a trip to the gym to energise yourself, try some high glycemic index carbohydrates 15-30 minutes before working out. This being the complete opposite to low GI carbs, will therefore release their glucose into the bloodstream a lot quick, providing instant energy for your workout. In an instant where you are looking for a quick fix before the gym you are not likely to want to eat a large meal, and therefore try thinking about snack such as, popcorn or rice cakes, and while most fruits are low GI watermelon and pineapple are great go to snacks for a quick boost of energy.
In a post gym scenario, yes we are still looking to top up our energy levels, so you can again reach for a snack with high GI carbohydrates to give you a boost to continue with your day after working out. However, importantly we also should be looking to get a good supply of proteins and fats, to ensure our bodies have all the nutrients we need to repair, rebuild and recover our muscles after a workout. Therefore I would suggest looking to top up all these bases with a good healthy and balanced meal about 2 hours after our work out. Look to include some lean protein, such as chicken or fish, brown rice and nice vegetables like broccoli.